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So I need a new desk, and preferably something that's solid wood that can support my dual-monitor mount without sagging or bending. I currently have an Ikea desk that's made of particleboard, and it's not going well! I did some research online and looks like the Gerton is going to be my best bet.

Basically, I'm looking for the simplest/quickest solution to treat the wood and give it some protection. I live in a not large apartment, and would have to treat everything indoors. I know that the best way to treat/finish wood takes a lot of time and patience, but I can't really afford to have this tabletop sitting around in my apartment for 2/3 weeks.

I found this video, and the dude just applies a couple of coats of mineral oil and calls it a day. I tried looking around to see if anyone else has tried this, but I'm finding conflicting comments—some saying it'd work totally fine, others say mineral oil won't provide actual protection, others saying mineral oil won't ever dry and/or that it won't work well with the pre-applied oil that comes on the Gerton.

Would it be ok if I just sanded the tabletop down and applied 2-3 coats of mineral oil? I would be able to let it dry out overnight, but really not too much longer than that. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!

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    Please search previous Q&A for all the answers to the questions you've just asked. Mineral oil is considered a "non-drying" oil, for example. It doesn't cure solid (or very solid) and offers no real protection, but then again, what protection do you need? At the end of the day, why are you (re)finishing the furniture, and how much effort do you want to put in? Only you can answer this, and the rest is pretty much in previous Q&A. – jdv May 26 at 18:01
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    By the way, welcome to WW.SE. Be aware that this is not a threaded forum, but rather a collection of Q&A. Take the tour if you want to be sure what that means. This question isn't really answerable because we don't know what you want. What "protection" do you need? If it is to protect from dings and knocks, then you will be advised to use some sort of poly. But you might not be in a position to do that. So, ask yourself what your needs and skills are, and then search the previous Q&A because it is probably already answered! Only then come back to tell us what you want to do. – jdv May 26 at 18:06
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    From the Ikea page, Gerton Should be treated with STOCKARYD wood treatment oil for indoor use once prior to usage. "I can't really afford to have this tabletop sitting around in my apartment for 2/3 weeks." This is one of those things where you either take the time it takes or there's a penalty. If a finish takes longer than the stated 6 hours to be touch-dry then it just does, and rushing a recoat will lead to a sticky mess or worse. And you can get the same sort of variation in cure time. Very generally 2/3 weeks can be considered a MINIMUM cure time, for consistent use of the surface. – Graphus May 27 at 16:21
  • @Graphus, nice find. So, we can guess that any existing finish was some sort of drying linseed, tung-style, oil. Or that is what they recommend, and the table is unfinished. They claim it is touch dry in 4-6 hours. But, of course, theat depends on a pile of unknown factors. – jdv May 27 at 19:15
  • @jdv, I knew there would be something along those lines because Ikea always have care/prep instructions, along with an honest description of the actual makeup of the item (even if it means admitting to a cardboard core!) "They claim it is touch dry in 4-6 hours." As you say, lots of factors. But also one definition of touch dry is not the same as another! And regardless, something being dry to the touch is essentially irrelevant to usage, and that's across the board for oils, shellac, varnish, lacquer or epoxy.... even polyester, as used on modern pianos. – Graphus May 28 at 9:38
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All of the information you've gotten online sounds to be correct.

  • It would work fine - well, depending on your definition of "fine". It will make unfinished wood look better by darkening it, but that's about it.
  • Mineral oil won't provide any actual protection - This is true, mineral oil does nothing to prevent scratches in the surface or liquids from staining it.
  • Mineral oil won't ever dry - finishes actually "cure", not "dry", but this is true. The mineral oil you apply will stay soaked in the wood in a liquid form forever. It can be washed out over time. If you apply too much it will be absorbed by items placed on it.
  • It won't work well with the current finish - Any film finishes or even cured oils will prevent mineral oil from being absorbed. In the extreme this could cause more problems with the oil rubbing off on items on the surface.

If your intent is to make a more durable surface but you need a quick cure time and you're happy with the current coloration I would suggest using a waterborne polyurethane finish, such as General Finishes brand High Performance. You can apply coats with just a few hours in between and they cure enough for light use in a day or less. (Though I would avoid putting heavy items like monitors on them for a few days at least.)

Unfortunately, putting different types of finishes over each other is always a bit of a gamble. Ideally you could sand down the original finish, particularly if it's a film finish, before applying anything else.

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    Heh. We both had pretty much the same answer like minutes apart. – jdv May 27 at 15:09
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    @jdv Great minds think alike! – SaSSafraS1232 May 27 at 15:51
  • Sorry to abuse Comments like this, I'll delete this later. But I wanted to save you some time and effort. The Q asking about cutting high-precision inside corners? I would abandon your effort to help myself; as you might have noticed previously you won't get any satisfactory dialogue going with the OP. They are notorious for A, arguing against suggestions that they — admitted beginner! — think aren't right (which seems to be every suggestion sometimes, no exaggeration) or just ignoring them and B, almost never accepting an Answer no matter how good, violating the compact between us here :-\ – Graphus Aug 19 at 6:42
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If the core concern in your query is this:

I'm looking for the simplest/quickest solution to treat the wood and give it some protection

And, if we are to assume that the desk is already finished using some sort of oil, which is suggested in your question, then the most obvious answer is:

Don't do anything. Assemble the desk and use it.

Unless you purchased raw, unfinished wood pieces from Ikea, it is already finished.

If it is unfinished, according to a comment, the documentation for this SKU from Ikea specifies using their "STOCKARYD" product to finish it. From a look at the product page for that, this is a drying linseed oil finish that dries in 4-6 hours, and will eventually cure solid. In this regard, I would advise not using a non-drying oil like mineral oil. Everything else I mention below still holds true in general. So, if you want to finish this table, the advice would be:

Use the recommended drying linseed oil to finish the table, waiting the recommended time for it to dry before using it.

Furthermore, the finish it has probably doesn't offer much in the way of protection from dings and scratches and knocks. In order to get that sort of protection, you would need to apply some sort of surface finish, like a polyurethane. But to do that you'd be advised to remove all the previous finish. And then follow the procedure for applying poly; which is easier these days, but is not a matter of a few easy days.

Mineral oil is considered a non-drying oil, so it will never truly harden, and it would not offer any more "protection" than you already have. And depending on the existing finish, it could remain sticky for days or even weeks.

So, if the aim is to just get the table into service, don't refinish it. If you have a few days, use the recommended drying linseed oil finish.

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